We’ve had to bid adieu to lazy days by the pool, bbqs and sleeping in. Fall has arrived and with it comes back-to-school and the onset of cooler weather. For many, this can be a buzz kill and is a tough transition. But it doesn’t have to be!
Fall also brings Halloween, sexy Fall clothing and awesome food! Pumpkin Pie anyone? So aside from looking forward to fun Autumnal events, you can also beat the blues by adjusting some of the food in your diet. Many foods help stabilize your mood by keeping your serotonin levels in check, the chemicals in your brain that induce calm.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one part of the brain to another. An imbalance of serotonin in the brain can influence mood and lead to depression.
Here are just a few foods that if incorporated into your diet, can up your serotonin levels and keep you smiling year round!:
- Carbs are your friend! – Carbohydrates play role in the production of serotonin and lack of carbohydrates can lead to noticeable changes in your mood. Hang out with any Atkins person and you’ll see that they aren’t the most delightful company ; ) But don’t load up on empty carbs, make sure they are high quality such as whole grains like quinoa and oats as well as organic fruits & veggies. It is important to mention that these “carbs” must be from whole sources. Candy and sweets can offer the same effect however since carbohydrates affect insulin levels, it is key that your carb choices are healthy ones so as to not spike your insulin levels and give you a lasting effect. Whole foods don’t give you the crash that simple carbs do.
- Vitamins D, E & Omega 3s – There are a great many sources of vitamin E such as nuts, seeds and veggie oils. Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E and is a healthier alternative for sautéing foods and vegetables. Vitamin D is easy, just spend some time outdoors and you’re all good! Just be safe with a good sunscreen. Omegas from plant based sources (pumpkin seed, flax, etc) are a great way to get in your Omegas while the good fat helps improve brain function.
- Tall, dark & green – Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale and peas are high in folate. It is a substance that has a key role in the production of serotonin. The fresher the veggie, the more packed with nutrients. If you can get fresh, go for frozen over canned.
- Beans, beans the magical fruit – No silly, they aren’t fruit, they’re beans! And chickpeas, otherwise known as garbanzo beans are rich in iron, vitamin E and fiber. All of which are very helpful in fighting off the blues as they are key elements to proper, balanced brain function.
In addition to adding these foods to achieve your optimum mood, it’s best to reduce, if not eliminate certain foods from your diet. Such foods are:
- Red meat
- Fried foods
- Processed & fast food
- Alcohol and caffeine
These items have a lot of chemicals and ingredients that block serotonin and throw off our natural balance. So as much as you can avoid these, the better off you will be!